Last time we talked about branding and legal elements of successful brands. What about if you already have a brand and would like to change it? Let’s talk about rebrading.

Rebranding at its core means to change the public image of your company and/or product. Reasons why to do it are different and depend on every individual business, though they can be put roughly in 2 categories:

  • proactive rebranding – for example when you find a new business oppportunity and make changes or adjustments to your brand to pursue it more easily; and
  • reactive rebranding – you change your brand as a consequence of for example PR failure

Further on, we can split the consequences  of rebranding in two parts. First ones are »image-related consequences« – i.e., changes in public perception of brand itself, and the second are legal consequences of rebrading. So let’s take a look at the latter – legal part.

As you change your brand, you probably change the name, image and symbol or design, to name a few, and all these new elements of your new brand need to be protected. So you should start with

SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT TRADEMARK

Last time we talked about distincitveness – if your brand is descriptive, you won’t be able to register it (you can read more on t. an appropriate name of your tradermark and protecting it So once you choose it, take a deep look into the trademark register. If there is already another business with registered simillar logo or name, you can get yourself burried in a pile of legal troubles you don’t want to deal with. To avoid the claims of trade mark infringement or misleading and deceptive conduct, do research. And do it in great detail.

LOGO PROTECTION

If you change your logo (and in majority of cases this is exactly what happens if you decide to rebrand), make sure it’s an original work and that the person who designed it for you has all rights. It’s also important that you conclude an Agreement, with which the designer assigns ownership in the copyright in the logo to you.

Once all this is done, apply for the trademark protection of the logo to ensure that no other businesses can use that logo for similar products and/or services.

FINDING THE RIGHT DOMAIN

First, find an available (free) domain. In the market saturated with different possibilities, you should choose a domain name that’s simple, so your customers can easily find you online, but pay attention to distinctiveness. If you choose a domain name that conflicts with trademarks of third parties or any one of the millions of commercial names that already exist, you risk losing it.

And once you have your trademark registered, you can prevent others of having domain that is identical or similar to your trademark- worth thinking about it right?

REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS NAME

Not all names can be registered, choose one that can be. Different legislations provide different rules, so you should either search the business name in the register or contact your national lawyer to help you do the research and understand what can be put in your business name and what can not.

It can be pretty inconvenient if you find that a competitive company has registered a daughter company with your name. And there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it.

DECIDE WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOUR OLD BRAND

In all the shizzle-fizzle of setting up your new brand, it’s pretty easy to forget about the old one. The trademarks, unless they’re renewed, usually expire after 10 years, so one option is to just let them expire.

If you’re certain that you will not be using your old brand anymore, you should consider revoking it. If you don’t use your trademark for five years or more, a competitor could engage in process of IP Office canceling it for non-use and then take over the rights to it.

So pay attention to your old brand too – make a clear decision whether you’ll still be using it or not – in that case, revoke it.

As we can see, rebranding has many aspects and attention should be paid to all of them. Beside building a strong public image, you should build a strong legal protection for your brand too. We like to see it as a basis everything else stands on. Research, contact your lawyers and protect yourself properly. One day you might be infinitely thankful for it.